Candidate J, Column 2: Stimulus

The AJC asked 10 finalists for a fulltime conservative columnist position to write two columns: one on efforts for a U.S. economic stimulus plan and one on any other topic. Here were the two columns submitted by Kyle Wingfield, the candidate who ultimately was chosen for the job. He was listed as candidate J in the original field of 10.

By Candidate J

Conservatives are supposed to like all tax cuts. But the differences between the cut included in the federal stimulus bill and one proposed in Atlanta offer a chance to re-learn an old lesson: Not all tax cuts are created equal.

The first reference here is to a reduction in federal payroll taxes of $400 annually for individual workers, or $800 for couples. The lump-sum tax rebates that the Bush administration issued last year were largely put into savings or used to pay down debt. President Obama wants the new tax cuts handed out slowly so that people will just spend.

The apparent idea is that the money—about $8 per week per worker—will be so undetectable to individual earners that it will flow unimpeded into the economy, and yet accumulate in such a way that businesses grow and ultimately hire more employees. Here’s the problem: No company, whether it sells cars or houses or hamburgers, can know with any certainty how much it will receive from this aggregation.

This week, my $8 might end up with the barber; next week, a restaurant; and so on. In a city of Atlanta’s size, with many stimulus-spenders, the barber can probably expect to get some sort of consistent bump in business. But will it be enough to buy some new hair dryers? Go on vacation? Hire some help? Who knows?

Tax cuts work when they give individuals or businesses an incentive to take an entrepreneurial risk they wouldn’t have otherwise taken. To do so, there must be some certainty: If I make more money next year by working overtime, or starting a small business on the side, or investing, or hiring someone to help my business grow, I’ll get to keep more of it than I would have kept before. A scatter-shot of cash coming from myriad directions doesn’t do that.

That brings us to the second tax cut. The fastest way to boost employment now is to reduce corporate tax rates. At 35 percent, the federal rate is the second-highest in the developed world. Rather than trying to figure out which businesses deserve to get government help or might benefit from a slight boost in consumer spending, it’d be better to give all businesses a predictable tax cut so that they have the means to hire new workers, or at least avoid layoffs.

Georgia Republicans are trying to do their part, introducing legislation to gradually eliminate the state’s 6 percent corporate tax. As the state tries to sustain its jobs growth of the past decade, every little bit will help.

Instead of cutting the rate between 2012 and 2024, however, legislators could create a bigger boost by moving more quickly and rapidly so that the state doesn’t lose any more ground to countries that are already below the federal 35 percent level. The world’s economy will undergo a great reshaping in the coming years. If Georgia wants to keep from falling behind, this is the kind of “stimulus” it needs.

Note: Commenting is open 24 hours a day through 6 p.m. Monday. However, comments will be published only during business hours Thursday, Friday and Monday.

16 comments Add your comment

Charles Slaughter

February 26th, 2009
12:01 pm

I think that all of them equally qualified as conservatives. They all seem to share the same worn out ideals and fantasies. All seem to think that despising government is a virtue. All hold firm to the belief that wealth will trickle down from the fat cats to the working class like crumbs falling from a rich man’s table. I did find that that some were more out of touch than others, but all were satisfactorily delusional. Any one of them could spout right wing talking points like a parrot with a caffeine buzz. Bravo!, a fine representation of the wing nut minority.


February 26th, 2009
12:13 pm

Funny how the AJC editorial board finds themselves in need of help when it comes to distinguishing between conservatives. Obviously further proof that diversified opinions are not high on the AJC’s progressive agenda..


February 26th, 2009
4:34 pm

AJC– Can we please choose a conservative columnist not for his/his ability to speak to those who are already unthinking followers, but for his/her ability to explain and advocate to those who do not agree with them and for their ability to provoke and make uncomfortable all those who think that they already know everything, whether they are conservative or liberal. Perhaps someone that cannot be pigeonholded and that thinks outside the box? As for your candidates, I looked only at the stimulus pieces and this is my initial reaction:

A. Superficial–no insight
B. Too narrow minded–misleading
C. Interesting — made me think, I liked this
D. Not very bright–no way
E. Similar to B. Questionable arguments. Not logical and just saying it is so does not make it so.
F. Similar to D. A waste of time. No way.
G. Not convincing in any way
H. Besides the point arguments but interesting as a historical note.
I. This writer is arrogant without being convincing. Not a good choice.
J. Somewhat interesting.

In summary–I think you can do better. Relying on a straw man argument or ignoring significant contrary facts/positions is very weak and many of these samples were exactly that. If that is the best they can do in their “best” writing samples, can you imagine how lazy they will be in their everyday columns? There have got to be provacative but thoughtful and rigorous conservative writers out there–or am I mistaken?

C. Allen

February 26th, 2009
6:15 pm

Boy, poor Candidate J, put at the end where the reader comments are dumped in all their exasperations. I thought J’s commentary was just fine.


February 26th, 2009
7:53 pm

Again excellent insight.
After trying to read both columns by each candidate (and, of course all the comments on them) I decided it would be easier to expect our ELECTED Congressman to do their job by reading the 1000 page stimulus bill (Do those clowns have a second job or a note from home saying they are excused from doing their job) I decided it was POSSIBLE for me to read each column on the stimulus by every candidate before commenting.
Therefore my opinion on those I found worthier are found under their piece on the stimulus. Sufficient to say here I found Columnist J to be among the worthier.


February 27th, 2009
12:22 pm

I agree with many of the others. Why don’t you just get a an acknowledged professional conservative writer such as Laura Ingraham? At least you’d know what you’re getting.

Rachel C

February 27th, 2009
2:22 pm

This article was pretty good. Some awkward sentence structures, but I’m picky.

They would be my second choice, but a distant second to Candidate C.


February 27th, 2009
2:23 pm

Although there was not much exciting or new in the thoughts of this columnist, the arguments were well laid out, and the tone was good. This is one of the better options.


February 27th, 2009
7:28 pm

The writer starts off talking about the federal “stimulus” bill, then wanders into the state arena. That’s too much to cover in a single short column, and both of his/her points suffer because of this.

Not a bad writing style, but the writer just needs to stay more focused and stay on a single well-defined theme.


February 28th, 2009
4:24 am

Well written, mentions Georgia issues a bit. Both of these author’s columns are solid.

BUT: that’s 2 columns on money and the stimulus plan as topics for J. Is the economy the author’s (only) comfort zone? Were deadlines too tight to develop two independent topics?

Only two candidates are sufficiently consistent across both columns quality-wise. That would be C and J. My finalists!

I definitely preferred C’s columns–this candidate will go the distance. Each column had something memorable (elephants as hook (hah!) for other topics; overindulgent dad analogy re: stimulus); each was an original take; each covered both GA and national issues; and the conservative angle was identifiable. The tone was true, author showed good exposition and subtle persuasion without histrionics or condescension, and the pieces read cleanly. Bring on this new talent!


March 1st, 2009
5:58 am

Weak beginning; decent discussion on corporate taxes, but even that could use a little more substance.

Pierce Randall

March 1st, 2009
4:14 pm

So basically, tax cuts don’t work unless they go to rich people?

TRTL Audrey Chambers

March 1st, 2009
5:22 pm

On the topic of their choice, candidates C & G did the best job of presenting their opinions in an organized way. Addressing the stimulus bill, only candidates F, H and I stayed on topic with F & H offering the best presentation.
I tried to judge not on what I agreed or disagreed with but on style and organization. Didn’t identify a candidate who did both well on both topics.

Marilyn Michelitch

March 1st, 2009
11:38 pm

Candidate J : Stimulus
With the small businesses bleeding because of lack of sustainability
by the economy (poor government oversight), this journalist was clear thoughout his article about what can help the free enteprise system in our fair country and what will fail.
He then made it clear as to what Georgia can do to help businesses in these challenging times to stay here (in our lovely state) with tax cuts and also what will force businesses to not only leave Georgia but the USA as well.

I liked how he stated his case with the facts !!!

Marilyn Michelitch


March 2nd, 2009
12:22 am

Good points/interesting article.
This is one of the better articles.


March 2nd, 2009
5:41 pm

This is the one.